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Wildlife: Japanese Macaques, By Masashi Mochida, Tokushima, Japan

Japanese Macaques

Macaca fuscata

Learn more about Macaca fuscata from the Encyclopedia of Life

Encyclopedia of Life

Jigokudani, Yamanouchi,
Nagano, Japan
By Masashi Mochida
Tokushima, Japan


Commonly referred to as “snow monkeys,” Japanese macaques are notorious for their animated behavior, whether quietly enjoying the hot springs of Jigokudani or engaging in play during the cold, snowy winters. Found in the wild only in the highlands and forested mountains of Japan, macaques may live up to 40 years, subsisting on plants, insects, acorns, and other nuts. Snow monkeys are very social animals and communicate using a complex variety of vocalizations, facial expressions, and body language, as well as physical contact such as play, grooming, and mating.

“I was very lucky to get a series of shots of these young snow monkeys in a snowball battle, chasing each other around and throwing snow. Here one youngster had suddenly leaped up into the air, surprising the other.” —MM


Canon EOS-1D Mark IV; EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM lens at 95mm; 1/3200 sec at ƒ/5.6; ISO 800; hand-held.